Lillard and his Blazers start lecturing the Lakers

Those of Stotts made a beginning and end of the game to frame. The lack of success from the perimeter and the poor numbers of the second unit marked the future of the Angelenos.


The Portland Trail Blazers continue to mark territory in Orlando. Terry Stotts's men reached the bubble with the difficult mission of finishing eighth in the West and thus adding their seventh consecutive playoff presence. To do this, they had to turn around 3 and a half games behind the Grizzlies or, failing that, be less than 4 behind Tennessee and wait for the play-in. Stotts 'men managed to be eighth with an agonizing victory in the last game against the Nets, it was necessary to wait for the last minutes to resolve their match against Jenkins' men and in their playoff debut they had to wait for the last 180 seconds to find out which side the balance would tip on.

Beyond the fact that the coin has fallen up to 3 times in a row on the side of Stotts, the Blazers have managed to develop throughout the bubble a dynamic game in attack and a zonal defense to frame. Those from Portland have managed to find in Damian Lillard the ideal leader for the decisive moment of the season, against the Lakers he signed 34 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and he is accompanied by subliminal shooters from the perimeter such as McCollum or a rejuvenated Carmelo Anthony, 21 and 11 points respectively in the opening of the playoffs, and the physical power of Jusuf Nurkic. The Bosnian center was together with Anthony the only 2 players who reached the double-double against Vogel's. Tuzla had 16 points and 15 rebounds, in addition to 3 assists.

Before the Lakers, the Blazers started the duel with a defensive approach that was less risky. Stotts wanted his players to shield the area at all costs and force the Lakers to trust everything to an outside game that had been in evidence after the return from the competition. The idea came out to order. The first quarter ended with an 11-point lead for the Oregonians, with Lillard and Nurkic already in double-digit scoring and with the Lakers signing negative records from the perimeter. Vogel's men missed the 8 triples they tried and the Blazers left LeBron at 6 points.

But the game still had 3 quarters left and the Lakers hadn't had their last word. Anthony Davis resurfaced and added another 12 points to reach 21. While it's true, the Chicago power forward's main source of scoring was the 11 free throws he made. The reality is that 21 points at halftime are not few, but his 5 of 15 shooting from the field overshadows the role of a Davis who once again became a clone of what he lived in the past. To the scoring contribution of the 2 franchise players, they were added the first 2 triples of the game and a defense with a more structured man marking system, which allowed the Angelenos to leave only 1 point behind those of Stotts.

The third quarter was marked by the mistake facing the basket and by an increase in the defensive demand of both teams. Between them, they scored 40 points in the third quarter with only 3 triples scored, 2 of them by the Blazers. And it is that those of Vogel continued being in evidence in the perimeter. 3 out of 22 and 13.6% correct in the absence of 12 minutes. The low level of annotation caused that the difference that the Oregon team took at the end of the first half was increased by 2 points, so everything remained to be decided in the last quarter.

In the last 12 minutes, the usual one appeared again in Stotts's. Lillard signed 12 points in the last 4 minutes and put the victory on a tray to some Blazers who saw how the Lakers were still waiting for some kind of green outbreak from the Green, Kuzma or McGee. The reality is that except for an isolated moment of success by Kuzma at the start of the last quarter, in which he scored 7 points, putting the Lakers 6 up and was only slowed by the substitution, the other 3 starters added 17 points between The 3. With the rope around the neck of the tie at 93 with 3½ minutes to go, the Blazers knew how to manage the ball circulation much better and try to find Lillard or McCollum to make the difference. The Lakers sinned from an alarming lack of knowing how to intelligently manage possessions by looking excessively at LeBron.

In that 210-second stretch, the Lakers were only able to score 4 points, 2 from Davis and as many from LeBron, so it was enough for the Blazers to score 4 shots to take the jack to the water and go ahead against all odds in the Serie. The game diagnosis presented by the Lakers at the beginning of the bubble already foreshadowed that the tie was going to be much tougher than a duel between the first and eighth of the Conference could be on paper.

With the handicap of having to turn the tie around, Vogel's men will face a duel that is decisive at dawn from Thursday to Friday (03:00 Spanish time). Green, Kuzma and a more accurate Davis beyond the personnel line will have to support a LeBron, who despite not signing his best game, his numbers (23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists) serve him to register a new anniversary. in NBA history. No player had ever hit a triple-double of 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 assists - a career-high I in the history of the playoffs. A record that James would surely trade for a win.

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